Labyrinth walking is a meditation practice, and some believe it represents the journey to the inner self. The goal is to move slowly without having a specific destination in mind as you follow along the twists and turns of the path. This can be done with or without shoes on. Mindful walking helps us stay focused in the present moment by tuning in to our body’s sensations, which helps reduce stress.
Lisa Gidlow Moriarty, labyrinth designer and master labyrinth maker at Paths of Peace, explains that “labyrinths provide a finite space and time for a personal meditative experience, one where a person can step outside of the frenzied world and walk in a contemplative way with an inner focus.”
She also highlights the physical benefits of outdoor labyrinths: “Physiologically, there appears to be a balancing effect that occurs when walking a labyrinth in that one experiences the same number of 180-degree turns to the right and to the left, which seems to balance the body, the hemispheres of the brain, resulting in a deeper sense of calm. Add nature to the labyrinth walking experience when done on an outdoor labyrinth, and the relaxation is even further enhanced.”
Spending time at a labyrinth can be comforting and even life-changing. The last two times I visited a labyrinth, I walked away feeling rejuvenated. The trick was to consider an issue that was causing me stress before the experience. I acknowledged this anxious or frustrating feeling and then left it behind by carrying a stone with me into the labyrinth and placing it at the center. As I exited the path, I waved my arms back several times to physically push my negative thoughts and feelings behind me so they wouldn’t be with me any longer. It really worked!
To find a labyrinth near you (or plan a special trip to visit one), head to this Worldwide Labyrinth Locator.